White Rock Hempyz store manager Kat Thomas. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Civic cannabis plan gets the attention of White Rock business groups

Chamber to poll members, BIA would “absolutely support” businesses looking to open dispensaries

Business organizations in the community will be talking amongst their members to decide how to position themselves in the wake of City of White Rock’s plan to effectively ban cannabis dispensaries from the city prior to federal legalization.

South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce executive director Cliff Annable said Friday that he was “a little surprised” after the city gave first and second reading this week to legislation that pushed the plan to a public hearing, scheduled Jan. 29.

“That was a very controversial one” Annable told Peace Arch News. “I don’t know why they were doing that… I don’t know why they decided to go that way.”

However, Annable said he cannot comment on behalf of the chamber “at this particular moment.”

“I prefer that the board come up with a policy so that I can put it out on behalf of the chamber,” he said. “We’re going to have more advocacy and more communication on a lot of the stuff that affects the population of the members.”

Annable said he will bring up the civic legislation with chamber members when they meet “in the next two or three weeks.”

White Rock Business Improvement Association executive director Jennifer Brandon said that while the BIA understands what the city is “attempting,” it will prioritize the needs of local businesses.

“I understand kind of their approach, because they’re waiting for more federal regulations to come through to figure out where they should be. That being said, we’re going to support our business members wherever we can,” she said, noting the BIA would “absolutely support” businesses looking to sell cannabis under a legal framework.

Brandon said the BIA will reach out to Hempyz Gifts & Novelties (14967 Marine Dr.). Although Hempyz does not sell cannabis, it does sell a variety of hemp-based products – such as creams and clothing – and smoking paraphernalia.

Randy Caine and Chad Thomas, who own Hempyz with Delaney Mack, told PAN that come legalization anticipated this summer, they’re not particularly interested in turning the waterfront Hempzy’s into a cannabis dispensary.

However, Caine told PAN, they are interested in opening a legal stand-alone cannabis dispensary in Langley and White Rock areas.

“We’ve discussed this,” Caine said. “Looking forward, under a controlled model, I don’t believe that Hempyz would be the appropriate outlet for that – we’re really a retail location. I will make applications within the communities that we are already in for stand-alone outlets that would maybe fly under the Hempyz banner.”

Caine said it would be “very beneficial” to open a Hempyz cannabis outlet in White Rock because residents “understand how we operate. We’re not the new kids showing up. They’ve already got a sense that we’re willing to follow the rules and work with the community.”

The province, which is still ironing out details of the sale of cannabis, announced that pot will be sold by both public and private retailers.

During Monday’s meeting when council voted to advance the discussion to a public hearing, city director of planning Carl Johannsen said the proposed ban to existing zoning was an “interim step” until the province has presented its regulatory framework regarding cannabis.

Caine said the opportunity provided through a public hearing is a “wonderful thing.”

“My concern is that when bylaws are passed that prohibit something, it’s much easier to bring the bylaw in than it is to erase it. There is an element of concern that I do have here,” Caine said.

Caine, who will be out of the country during the public hearing, said he’s “quite certain” his daughter Tara will be attending the public hearing.

In 2015, Tara Caine opened Releaf Compassion Center – a public cannabis consultation storefront for potential medical-marijuana users – in the Five Corners neighbourhood. The business left White Rock after the storefront was damaged from the Five Corners fire May 2016, but continues to serve clients out of its Langley location.

Tara told PAN said she would “absolutely love” to consult with the city as they design bylaws relating to cannabis dispensaries.

“Work with them on setting rules, protocols, or whatever the community may have concerns with. If they’re concerned with it being too close to schools, want us to have alarm systems, or if they really want to make sure there are certain protocols we adhere by,” Tara said, adding that she will be attending the Jan. 29 public hearing.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

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